We just finished up Part II (Part I – Missional Leadership) of our Summer Leadership Training on Pastoral Leadership. It was a rich time of equipping our leaders to think and practice “pastor one another.” This was for all of our leaders, but is especially appropriate for our City Group Leaders. The first practice of City Groups is to share life and truth. This training equipped our people how to intentionally share life and truth. Unfortunately, most of us don’t naturally want to share our lives or our gospel hope with others; we’d rather, at best, talk around it or about it. But talking about sharing life and truth doesn’t produce gospel-centered community. We have to practice it by pastoring one another–speaking the truth in love. This was our over-arching question: “How do we speak the truth in love to one another?” We answered it in three ways:

  1. Context of Pastoral Leadership: Community-centered Pastoring
  2. Content of Pastoral Leadership: Gospel-centered Pastoring
  3. Contour of Pastoral Leadership: Where and How it Happens

Some reflection from (1) – The Context of Pastoral Leadership.

The vision of Austin City Life is to cultivate communities of Spirit-led disciples who redemptively engage peoples and cultures through Christ for the glory of God. So, what does it mean to “cultivate communities”? Cultivation is a horticultural metaphor. To plant a church is to cultivate a community, not launch a service. Church planting requires sweaty work with people; patience, allowing the plant to grow; and tenderness with the plant. In other words, if we want to cultivate community, it will require more than going to a church service on the weekends and attending a weekly meeting. That’s hardly community; it’s just a couple of meetings, a few hours a week.

We first have to be convinced that the church is a community, really. We are converted, not merely to Christ, but also to his body—the church—to a community of Spirit-led disciples who follow Jesus. Consider the numerous “one another” commands. Consider the nature of Scripture. When Paul wrote a letter to New Testament churches, the pastors did not take it, mimeograph, and hand out individual copies to the church members, and then tell them to take it home and study it. No, the pastors read the letters aloud in the community to the community. The second person plural pronouns “you” were heard, not primarily as a collection of individuals, but as a community of disciples who shared life and truth and mission. They implemented Paul’s commands by loving, exhorting, encouraging, and serving one another, not by privately memorizing Scripture, having quiet times, and attending church. The context of their pastoring was one another. The Word has a community context, and as Tim Chester puts it, “The gospel is a community-centered Gospel.” To pastor one another, then, is to be community-centered. The context of pastoral leadership is community.